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While moving towards Konanakunte Cross in Bengaluru city one would seldom notice the dying Konanakunte lake also known as Ganapathipura lake. Strangely, many residents with whom The Indian Express spoke to are not even aware of the existence of a lake that is supposed to have an area of 9.18 acres, while some living nearby have been mute spectators to the decay of the lake in the past two decades.
According to the records of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) more than two acres of the lake is encroached by a private distillery company, houses and a school. The document also states that a road and graveyard have also eaten away portions of the water body.
Giving a glimmer of hope the BBMP, the custodian of lakes, announced last week that the developmental works will be carried out at Konanakunte lake at a cost of Rs 6 crore.
The lake was last surveyed by the revenue department in 2000 when the custody of the water body was with the forest department.
At one edge of the lake sports a rusted forest department’s board that reads: “Throwing garbage and hunting animals is a punishable offence.”
Irony is that one side of the water body is used as a garbage dumping spot and urinal ground. While the lake was fenced from all the sides no public entrance gate was constructed. It is also learnt that a drain directly opens into the lake.
“It is shocking to know that a lake was fenced across adjoining roads and a public entrance gate was missing. Rejuvenation work incurs huge expense, and by the time the amount is sanctioned and the lake is listed for beautification a significant portion of the water body would be encroached. In a fast growing city like Bengaluru, BBMP should allocate funds for lake protection, and rejuvenation exercise could follow next. Let us protect our lakes,” Raghavendra B Pachhapur, programme manager with the NGO Action Aid Association said.
Assistant executive engineer with the BBMP, Cheithan Naik, said the restoration of Konanakunte lake is on the cards.
BBMP officers said the civic body wanted a survey to be done in 2014. “But it was never carried out for want of surveyors. Moreover, the encroachments of several lakes in the city are either done by powerful people or the government itself that has made roads or constructed schools in their buffer zone. We will carry out the rejuvenation soon,” an officer said.
Raghavendra B Pachhapur, programme Manager with the NGO ActionAid Association said, “As per the survey records updated in 2013, Konanakunte lake which was 9.18 acres has been encroached both by government and private to the extent of 2.13 acre. Konanakunte Lake is orphaned by its custodian (BBMP). BBMP should take up anit-encroachment drives and make way for the rejuvenation of Konanakunte Lake.”
N Manjunath, who runs a grocery store near the lake, said, “I have been staying here for the past 12 years, and the lake’s condition has always been like this. Nobody comes to the lake. Many are not aware of the name of the lake. People residing in the vicinity know the existence of Sarakki and Chunchaghatta lakes. They are more developed and people take a walk around these lakes. However, Konanakunte Lake constantly sends out a foul smell. Stray dogs and cows are the usual visitors and there is no entrance for the public. One has to wade through the broken fence.”
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Environmentalist Kshitij Urs said, “When we tried to restore the water body in 2019 we were stopped by a local corporator. With no support, we had to let it go. It is part of the stream which includes Avalahalli Lake, Chunchaghatta Lake and Doddakallasandra Lake. The government is interested in constructing more dams than protecting the lakes.”
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